I remember turning 18 in college and all of the students around me were trying to cast their absentee ballots. That would have been my first year of voting, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. After years of going to the polls with my mother, I always felt that voting was a right that I would take advantage of as an informed citizen. But that day, I didn’t vote because I figured, my vote didn’t matter much and everything would be fine; it was the only time in my adult life that I missed the opportunity.
It was November 7, 2000, that election night as I sat and watched the poll numbers come on a big TV in the dorm’s lobby, it was clear that Al Gore had won the popular vote, but something wasn’t quite right. The Democrats couldn’t celebrate the victory because the then-Governor of Texas George W. Bush, the Republican candidate had won the electoral college vote. Thus winning the election. Ever since that date, I make sure my vote is counted.
Voting is both a rite of passage and a way to embrace one’s personal beliefs. A few years ago, many people were energized about voting, regardless of their age. There was a sense of hope and enthusiasm in the air as people listened to the debates and discussed the candidates. However, in 2020, the excitement has shifted to dread in some circles. In fact, the subject of voting infuriates many people because of the vast misinformation spread on social media platforms that have people believing that our votes do not matter.
Our votes do matter, and that’s why it is important to encourage our family members and friends to vote.
If you think back over the years, people have fought many years for the right vote, especially women and people of color. In addition, real people have lost their lives for the right to vote. If it truly didn’t matter, the act wouldn’t have caused such an uproar and as many re-zoning issues as it has.
As an influencer, being political was considered taboo for many years, but the people who follow influencers want to know that they care about issues important to the community.
Here is a guide on how to share political information on your social media platforms.
First, take a stand and share a story.
Celebrities have endorsed different candidates for decades – influencers can do the same. Feel free to call out injustice when you see it and highlight how people can make a difference in their communities. You can write a personal story about how or why a political situation affects you personally.
Second, inform and highlight the facts.
Many people in the 21st Century get their news from social media. For the most recent, up-to-date information some people head over to Twitter, follow the hashtags, and look for eye-witness accounts and first-hand information. Twitter is a great platform to launch a discussion, to talk about the issues, and site factual articles to support your stance. Facebook is the perfect platform to reshare vetted articles from legitimate sources.
Third, share but don’t stress.
People will believe what they want, but you can introduce or share the facts with them. Did you know that most people on Facebook have a personal relationship with their friends? Whereas Twitter is different because people often follow others with whom they do not have a personal relationship. It turns out that “Roughly one-in-five social media users have changed their minds about a political issue or about a candidate for office, because of something they saw on social media.” If you are really passionate about a political topic, share it as a video and let people hear directly from you.
Fourth, encourage dialogue on both sides.
In many ways, your followers become distant friends. Friends often discuss politics respectfully. Sharing your thoughts encourages others to weigh-in on the arguments on both sides. Thus, encouraging individuals to become more well-rounded. In your Instastories, use polls to encourage dialogue or to get to know your audience’s political views. Don’t just follow people who agree with your views; follow some with different views and try to understand their point of view.
Fifth, make it visual.
When you vote, share your “I voted!” sticker. People often feel more enthusiastic when they see others who are wearing “I voted” stickers. The stickers can also act as reminders for people who may not be aware of voting days. So snap a photo and add to your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed. Just remember, don’t take a photo of your actual ballot because it is illegal to do so in 16 states.
Seeing all of my friends in college vote, and talking to them about how important it was, made an impact on me. The truth is, people are watching all of us: our children, our neighbors, and our social media followers. We have to exercise our right to vote to ensure the politicians who get into office have our best interests in mind.
So feel free to use your platforms and your voice to make a difference because politics affect us all.